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I felt inept.  I lacked confidence.  I was worried I would hurt myself.  That describes how I felt last week when I decided I would give mountain biking a try.  It has been over five years since I have done any “real” mountain biking.  I have been wanting to get back out there for a while, but I have been so focused on my road cycling I didn’t have time. 

As I went on the so called “beginner” trail with my heart pumping and not knowing what to expect I was greeted with more protruding and jagged rocks than I would expect on a “beginner” trail.  All I thought as I was praying that I could get over those rocks is that it would really hurt to have one of those jabbed into my side.  I could feel my lungs being punctured.  Not a good thought at all. 

As I tentatively navigated over the rocks, I saw an uphill climb approaching with what I would call some large impediments that I would have to jump over.    In my mind, I quickly processed if I should take a chance and try to ride over them or to get off my bike and walk over the obstacles.  My risk-adverse side said to hop off the bike and play it safe, which I did. 

In between the tentativeness and slow pace I kept, I did take some time to look at all of the natural beauty around me.  It was amazing.  No cars to deal with and I only came across a few people.  I can see why people love to mountain bike. 

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I did make it to the end of my ride without any disasters.  I was humbled and was reminded of what it felt like to be a beginner.  I am an expert in the gym both as a fitness professional and a long time body builder.  I am an advanced road cyclist and an above average golfer. 

This experience on my mountain bike as a beginner really made me stop and think about my clients and potential clients I will be working with.   It made me think about how they feel when they first come to train with me.   How they must feel as a beginner.  The courage it takes to go into the unknown and being OK with being a beginner. 

I lead a Faith and Fitness class at a church and we regularly have about fifteen people come to the class.   It takes a great deal of bravery to attend a class for the first time not knowing what to expect, especially if you are new to fitness. 

I have always had a great deal of compassion for people who are new to exercise and I will have even more after this reminder of what it feels like to be a beginner. 

If you are not doing something that you have always wanted to do because you are afraid of being a beginner, I want to encourage you to do it anyways.  Embrace being a beginner.   It’s about the journey and what you learn about yourself along the way. 

I will be back on my mountain bike this week.  I know I will be better this time than I was last time.  I will enjoy being a beginner and see what I can learn about myself along the way.  I will get out of my comfort zone and realize I don’t have to be an expert at everything.  If I stay at this long enough, I can become an expert at this too and if I don’t that is just fine by me.  I will be a better person for trying.

Troy Ismir, MS

Spiritual Warrior Coach

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